How To Get Musty Smell Out Of Clothes

5 min read
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Lenor Spring Awakening - 800x800
5 min read

Is there a stale, damp smell lingering in your wardrobe? When you’ve taken the time and effort to get your clothes smelling fresh and feeling clean, the last thing you want to do is put them back into your wardrobe with a musty smell. Here’s our fail-safe guide to get rid of that unsavoury smell in your wardrobe and keep your clothes smelling fresh!

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  • Take everything out of the wardrobe and check the condition of your clothes. If the musty smell has permeated them, stick them in the washing machine for a wash.
  • Once your closet is clear, have a look for potential sources of that musty smell. If you find mould, use a mould cleaner suitable for whatever your wardrobe is made of to clear it. If you find a pet urine stain, there are commercial pet urine neutralisers that can help eradicate or neutralise the smell.
  • Once you’ve cleared your closet of all obvious odours, give the inside a thorough dust or hoover, making sure you tackle drawers and especially the floor of your closet.
  • Then use a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and warm water to wipe down the insides of your wardrobes and draws with a damp sponge or cloth to give it a re-fresh and get rid of the smell and stale odours. White vinegar, diluted with warm water is a fail-safe method to rid that musty smell in your closet and eradicate lingering odours.
  • Next leave the doors open and the wardrobe empty for a couple of days. This will allow air circulation and the inside to fully dry to prevent dampness or mould growing back.
  • If the smell is still lingering, use a plate of baking soda in the wardrobe overnight to absorb that musty scent. If there’s an improvement, but the smell’s not gone completely, you can repeat this with a new batch of baking soda until the smell disappears.

    Now you’ve rid your wardrobe of that musty smell and damp odour, here are some tips to keep your closet smelling fresh and your clothes smelling clean.

  • Give your clothes room to breathe - Cramming clothing too close together prevents air from circulating in your wardrobe. Remember it’s a small space with little ventilation, so air can get stale and give off that musty scent. So, once you’ve gone through the process of removing all your clothes and shoes from your wardrobe and cleaned it, go through everything you have and have a good sprint clean, purging anything you no longer need or want. Then, arrange your clothes to allow air to flow more easily.
  • Struggling for storage – If you can’t bear to part with any of your clothes or you’ve had a clear out and have found you’ve still got too many, then there is a solution! Remove, fold and pack away the seasonal wardrobe that’s not in use and store it in vacuum packed bags. This will keep clothes fresh, clean and odour free until you need them
  • Box those shoes up – shoes often given off an unpleasant aroma, especially after they’ve been worn, so don’t put your shoes away immediately after you’ve used them. If your shoes smell, put them in a shoe box or a container, otherwise they will end up leaving the whole space smelling rather unpleasant!
  • Make your own scent sachets – fill your wardrobe and clothes with natural scents and smells by making your own lavender or potpourri bags. You can add essential oils to these potpourri bags heighten the aroma and place them strategically among your clothes. This will help infuse clothes with a pleasant scent and keep that musty smell at bay. If you’d prefer no smell at all, you can leave a small open bowl of baking soda in your wardrobe to absorb any unwanted smells. Make sure you place the baking soda somewhere you won’t knock it over
  • Understand your washing symbols – How often have you chucked your clothes into your washing machine without checking the washing label first? We’ve all done it, but it’s important to read and understand those symbols before you dial up your washing machine, to make sure you’re caring properly for your clothes! The first laundry symbol you should check is the ‘wash’ symbol, which tells you at what temperature you should be washing your clothes. Wash them too hot and they’ll end up shrinking and becoming the perfect fit for your little one, so it’s good to make sure you set the washing dial to the correct temperature! Next up is the ‘Drying’ symbol. Check whether your clothes can be put in the tumble dryer or whether they need to be line-dried. It’s also worth checking whether they are delicate and need to be washed on a lower temperature to prevent damage. To keep your garments looking great after washing you can find a number of helpful symbols on the fabric care label, informing you of the most sure-fire way to dry your clothes. More information on clothing care symbols can be found here
  • Different washing machine settings – As well as making sure your clothes smell good, you want to make sure they look good as well once washed. It’s important to separate out your clothes before you wash them to avoid any complications during the wash such as shrinking, colour bleeding or damage to your delicates. This is why it’s a good idea to put your dirty laundry out into different categories and washes instead of lumping it all together. Make sure you group all your whites together to keep them nice and bright; delicates can either be placed together in a laundry bag or a pillow case to protect them from getting damaged during the wash. You can also wash dark colours together, turning your jeans inside out to preserve colour.
  • Great scent starts before you wash – who knew that you could get great smelling clothes even before you start washing! Before adding your clothes into the washing machine, simply shake and pour Unstoppables In-Wash Scent Booster beads into the cap, then toss into the washing machine. By putting them into the machine before you load up your laundry, it allows more scent to slowly infuse into your prized wardrobe pieces as they wash
  • Use these scent-boosting beads with your laundry detergent for up to 12 weeks of long-lasting scented freshness from wash until wear… it’s like magic!
  • Loading up your washing machine - Next on the list to super smelling clothes is how you load up your washing machine. It’s worth waiting until you have a full load of clothes that needs washing. If you don’t fill up the machine, then you’re just wasting electricity and water. On the other hand, if you overload your washing machine, you may easily end up with dirty clothes. So, as Goldilocks says, how do you know what’s just right? An easy way to find out is to use the one-palm trick. Place your hand into the washing machine’s drum, to see how much space is left. The perfect load is if you can’t fit anything else in the drum, just your hand and your laundry. If you can’t fit your hand into the drum, then your load is too big.
  • The right dose of detergent – Add a great smelling, high performance detergent that will leave your clothes looking and feeling great. But how much detergent should you add? Too much and it leaves your clothes with a sticky residue and too little and your clothes don’t come out super clean. Detergent bottles have guidelines as to the amount required per wash: quantities will vary depending on your water supply – whether it is hard or soft, how dirty your clothes are, and what size the load is. Bold, for example, comes with handy dosing balls, making this process even easier. Just add according to your needs (following the directions on the label), and pop the ball in the back of the drum! Or for an easier life, try pre-dosed laundry capsules, like Bold All-in-1 PODS. Just pop in a capsule, if you have to deal with heavy dirt and/or hard water, pop in two. Blended by expert perfumers, Bold’s authentic and luxurious scents will make you feel like you're strolling through sunny fields in the south of France.
  • For long-lasting freshness and softness, add a fabric conditioner – A Fabric Conditioner like Lenor is the underrated hero of laundry because it leaves your clothes smelling fantastic, feeling soft and fluffy and delivers noticeable freshness for up to a week. Use the provided measuring cap to define the optimal dose for your laundry. For larger washing machines or that extra burst of freshness, add some more of your preferred Lenor scent! There are some fantastic scents to choose from to match your mood. For instance, try Lenor Spring Awakening, Lenor Gold Orchid or Lenor Burst of Sunshine.
  • Don’t leave wet clothes in the washing machine - We've all done it. In a rush, we load up the washing machine, get the clothes washed while we get on with the million other things we need to do and then forget about them. But damp items sitting in your washing machine is not a recipe for fresh and great smelling clothes. In fact, it’s quite the opposite as your washing machine is a breeding ground for mildew. Everything will come out smelling musty and stale and chances are you’ll have to wash the same load all over again to try and remove the smell. So, for fresh clothes that smell amazing, take your laundry out as soon as possible after the cycle has finished and air them properly on a line or clothes horse or, care label permitting, put them in the tumble dryer.
  • Give your washing machine a good clean – if you have been guilty of leaving wet clothes sitting in your washing machine and get through several loads a day then chances are your washing machine is bunged up with all kinds of things that prevent your clothes from getting and smelling really clean. To clear out any potential mould or gunk, run an empty wash cycle on a high heat, which will kill anything causing a smell and will leave your washing machine pristine and ready to wash your clothes with a great smelling performance detergent and fabric softener to give you indulgently fresh smelling clothes for days.

Bold, Ariel and Lenor have united together to create laundry heaven. You can use one or two of these together to offer a superior clean and gorgeously fresh-smelling laundry. To help you find your winning combination, select complementary smelling detergents that deliver what’s most important to you. For instance, if you’re looking for a great night’s sleep why not infuse your bed linen with the Bold and Lenor Lavender & Chamomile scents along with a scoop of Unstoppables Dreams Scent Boosters with vanilla, musk and woody fragrances, perfect to calm and soothe you into a restful slumber. Read more about our best smelling laundry detergents here.